Honorable Mention Awards: 2019 Economic Development Deal Of The Year

Our most competitive Deal of the Year competition ever yielded a cornucopia of impressive projects that are bringing a bonanza of new jobs to locations across the U.S. Here’s the cream of the crop.


Our blue-ribbon panel of judges had a plethora of great projects to choose from in picking our 2019 Deal of the Year winners. This year, we’ve selected nine projects for our Honorable Mention Awards. Without further ado, here they are:

City of Charlotte (NC) and Mecklenburg County for Lowe’s Global Tech Hub.

In June 2019, Charlotte’s position as an emerging technology hub was bolstered when Lowe’s announced it would make a $153 million capital investment to create a new global technology center in Charlotte’s South End district.

The project is expected to create 1,612 new technology jobs with an average annual salary of $117,000.

Honorable Mention 2019 Deal of the Year
The new Lowe’s Global Technology Center (rendering, above) is planned for Charlotte, NC’s bustling South End, just 1.5 miles from the city’s center. The project is expected to create 1,612 new jobs with an average annual salary of $117,000. (Photo: NEWSROOM.LOWES.COM)

In the first half of last year, City of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County economic development departments led the economic development effort to successfully recruit Lowe’s and to strengthen regional ties to the home improvement giant’s corporate headquarters in adjacent Iredell County, NC.

Key economic development partners on this project included the Economic Development Partnership of North Carolina, North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Charlotte Regional Business Alliance. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg team also partnered with the company’s consultants, JLL Chicago and Moore & Van Allen, PLLC.

Driven by a new CEO, Marvin Ellison, Lowe’s sought to address the evolution of their technology workforce. To do this, they needed to secure a location that had synergy with the company’s vision and could meet immediate and future needs.

Because of this bold vision, this project will have a transformational economic impact within Charlotte-Mecklenburg and the surrounding region. Using the REMI forecasting too, the total economic output over 15 years is estimated to be $951 million. Lowe’s is recruiting top technology talent to fill positions such as software and infrastructure engineers, data scientists, analysts, architects, user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) professionals, and technologists with artificial intelligence and machine learning engineering experience.

Lowe’s new 23-story office tower, which will be home to the global technology center, is in the heart of South End, Charlotte, a historic textile manufacturing district experiencing a transformation into a technology hub and epicenter for millennials.

Lowe’s is a Fortune 50 company and the 8th largest retailer in the U.S.

State of Missouri for the retention of Bayer’s agtech business.

In July 2019, Bayer announced that it was creating 500 new jobs, investing an additional $164 million and retaining 4,400 existing jobs in St. Louis. The average salary for the new jobs was $110,000. This announcement also included the moving of their North American crop science headquarters from North Carolina, ending any uncertainty surrounding the future of Bayer Crop Science in Missouri following the merger of Bayer and Monsanto and Bayer’s $63 billion FDI into Missouri.

Behind the scenes, Missouri’s Governor Mike Parson met with Bayer officials in Germany. Local and regional economic development agencies worked with Bayer officials to assist with relocation and regional introduction services.

“We are honored that a global company like Bayer has chosen to grow its presence here in our state,” Gov. Parson said. “As you know, agriculture plays a critical role in our economy, and Bayer’s investment will only enhance Missouri’s strengths in the agricultural technology sector. We look forward to working together as we continue to grow and expand the industry.”

Missouri and St. Louis County offered millions of dollars in tax breaks and other advantages for the additional jobs. Gov. Parson put together a $27 million tax package for Bayer in exchange for moving the positions to the St. Louis area that includes incentives and training. The county government offered up additional tax relief.

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development for VW’s first U.S. electric vehicle production facility in Chattanooga.

The VW electric-vehicle project is an $800-million investment that will bring 1,000 new jobs to VW’s auto assembly complex in Hamilton County, TN.

“The shift toward electric vehicles is a trend that can be seen worldwide, and Volkswagen’s decision to locate its first North American EV manufacturing facility in Chattanooga underscores Tennessee’s manufacturing strength and highly-skilled workforce,” former Gov. Bill Haslam said. “As one of Hamilton County’s top employers, these additional 1,000 jobs will have a lasting impact on the region. I thank Volkswagen for its partnership and also applaud the company for its ongoing commitment to education and workforce alignment, which helps Tennessee build a pipeline of talent for years to come.”

Chattanooga will be the first manufacturing facility in North America that will produce vehicles using Volkswagen’s modular electric toolkit chassis, or MEB. The first Volkswagen electric vehicle will roll out in 2022.

Virginia Economic Development Partnership for Morgan Olson LLC’s van assembly plant in Dansville-Pittsylvania County.

Morgan Olson, LLC will invest $57.8 million to establish a new aluminum walk-in step van assembly operation in a 925,000-square-foot plant in Danville-Pittsylvania County, VA currently owned by IKEA. The company also considered Kentucky, North Carolina and Ohio for the project, which will create 703 new jobs.

“Morgan Olson walk-in step vans are in demand more than ever,” said Mike Ownbey, President and CEO of Morgan Olson. “One of the most attractive aspects of locating in Danville-Pittsylvania County is that we will be able to take advantage of the new Virginia Talent Accelerator Program, which will help us quickly attract and train the high-quality workforce we need to deliver for our customers.”

In July, IKEA announced it would shut down its Danville-Pittsylvania County facility, the company’s only manufacturing site in the United States, resulting in an expected loss of approximately 300 jobs. Morgan Olson’s operation will be housed in the plant currently owned by IKEA, which had planned to close in December 2019. Current IKEA employees will receive priority consideration as part of Morgan Olson’s hiring process.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. for the Komatsu Mining Corp. HQ Campus.

The Komatsu campus will bring 1,100 new employees to Milwaukee in an HQ built on a former Solvay chemical facility, a Superfund site that has been dormant since the 1980s.

Late in 2018, Komatsu Mining Corp. announced that it would relocate and expand its headquarters and production operations, which have been domiciled on an aging, expansive, inefficient campus on Milwaukee’s west side, to the Solvay Coke site along the shores of Lake Michigan in the burgeoning Harbor District on the south side of Milwaukee.

Honorable Mention 2019 Deal of the Year
Komatsu’s new South Harbor Campus (rendering, above) in Milwaukee is being built on a 60-acre Superfund site formerly occupied by Solvay Coke. (Photo: Komatsu)

One of the largest urban manufacturing announcements in a generation, the project also includes new public investments, such as a Riverwalk, a new public park and water access for the neighborhood.

For Komatsu, the project is their single largest investment outside of Tokyo. The 60-acre Solvay Coke site parcel is in an Opportunity Zone and is adjacent to the Port of Milwaukee, directly south of Milwaukee’s central business district and a few blocks from Rockwell Automation’s historic headquarters campus.

Empire State Development for Cree Inc.’s new silicon chip fab in Marcy, NY.

Cree Inc., a North Carolina company known for its LED lighting products, announced plans in September to build a $1.96-billion facility near Utica that it said will be the world’s largest silicon carbide fabrication facility.

Durham-based Cree said the highly automated plant in Marcy, NY will make silicon carbide wafers for automotive-qualified 200mm power and radio frequency semiconductors. The project is expected to create 614 new high-tech jobs.

Honorable Mention 2019 Deal of the Year
Cree Inc., headquartered in Durham, NC, is building what it says will be the world’s largest semiconductor fab, a $1.96-billion facility near Utica, NY. (Photo: LINKEDIN.COM)

“Silicon carbide is one of the most pivotal technologies of our time, and is at the heart of enabling innovation across a wide range of today’s most groundbreaking and revolutionary markets, including the transition from the internal combustion engine to electric vehicles and the rollout of ultra-fast 5G networks,” Cree CEO Gregg Lowe said in a press release.

He added: “This state-of-the-art, automotive-qualified wafer fabrication facility builds on our 30-year heritage of commercializing breakthrough technologies that help our customers deliver next-generation applications. We look forward to connecting our North Carolina and New York innovation hubs to drive the accelerated adoption of silicon carbide.”

City of Henderson (NV) for Haas Automation’s CNC machine tool plant.

This project will create 2,500 direct new jobs over the next 10 years and have an estimated economic impact of more than $4 billion on the region during the same period. Haas Automation’s total investment for the project is $327.3 million, which includes land and building costs.

Haas Automation is the largest machine tool builder in the Western world and needs to expand manufacturing capacity to support its rapidly growing sales, which exceeded $1 billion in 2018.

Haas Automation decided on Henderson for its new facility because the state of Nevada provides favorable conditions for efficient manufacturing, allowing the company to compete successfully with competitors in countries with lower wage costs (primarily China and Korea). The tax and regulatory structure is part of the overall business climate sought by Haas Automation; thus, the abatement program is a key element.

Haas Automation officials said Henderson’s leadership has created a business-savvy environment that has led to remarkable growth. They said that by prioritizing excellent schools, focusing on building a strong and diversified economy, a city staff that is known for making business matters easier and providing access to affordable housing, the City of Henderson was a clear choice for Haas Automation to not only create an additional presence, but to discover a new sense of community in Henderson for the Haas Automation family of employees.

Haas Automation hiring managers won’t have to go far to find a skilled workforce, as they have partnered with the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in order to train and educate engineering students.

“(The Haas Automation people) support us, they support us with educating our engineering students, so it’s almost like a dream come true to have them even think about coming here,” Terry Kell, UNLV machine shop director told council members at a Henderson City Council meeting earlier this year.

Haas Automation was founded in 1983 by its sole owner and President, Mr. Gene Haas. In 1988, Haas Automation introduced the first American-built vertical machining center (VMC) to sell for less than $50,000 and quickly became the industry benchmark for affordable CNC (Computer Numerical Control) technology. The company grew from a 5,000 square-foot single product line with three employees in Los Angeles, to its current operation in Oxnard, producing a variety of product lines.

Today, the company’s main product line consists of CNC machine tools that produce high-precision parts and sophisticated machine tools such as vertical machining centers and horizontal machining centers.

Corpus Christi (TX) Regional EDC for Steel Dynamics $1.8-billion steel mill in the Coastal Bend Region.

Last summer, Indiana-based Steel Dynamics, Inc. announced the selection of Sinton, TX as the site for a new $1.8-billion electric-arc-furnace (EAF) flat roll steel mill. Sinton is located approximately 30 miles northwest of the port of Corpus Christi, TX. Steel Dynamics officials said Sinton is strategically located within its targeted Southwest U.S. and Mexico markets.

“We are extremely excited to announce our selection of Sinton as the site for our next-generation, new flat roll steel mill investment,” said Mark. D. Millett, president/CEO of the Fort Wayne, Indiana steel giant.

Greater Sacramento Economic Council for the Centene West Corporate Campus in Sacramento.

As California continues to lead the world in healthcare and life science innovation, Greater Sacramento has become the new home of Fortune 500 company Centene. The $40 billion company is the nation’s largest managed healthcare provider.

The Greater Sacramento Economic Council worked with the City of Sacramento to develop first-time creative incentives that were a driving force behind Centene deciding to locate their new western headquarters in the region. The incentive agreement, unprecedented in the Greater Sacramento region, defines milestones for employment for the company to obtain $13.5 million in incentives.

The new facility underway is expected to bring 5,000 high-growth jobs to the region in areas such as healthcare, information technology, accounting and administration.


The 2019 Economic Development Deal of the Year recognizes the locations and economic development agencies that landed the highest-impact projects announced between July 1, 2018 and the entry deadline of December 1, 2019. For the purposes of this award, an “economic development deal” is defined as:

  • A project or effort that resulted in the relocation/expansion of a company to a location served by the entering organization;
  • A project resulting in the expansion of a company already within the territory served by the entering organization;
  • A project or effort that resulted in the demonstrable retention of a company that would have otherwise left, in whole or in part, the territory served by the entering organization;
  • Any combination of the above.

Nominees were required to provide official economic impact numbers produced by the RIMS II, IMPLAN or REMI certified analysis methods, including direct, indirect and induced figures for economic output, job creation and capital investment when available, as well as anticipated new wages; and a narrative explaining how the deal came together, including details on regional cooperation, innovative incentives and training programs in partnership with higher education resources, where applicable.

Judges evaluated the narrative and the economic impact numbers and gave each project a score ranging from zero to 100. The highest-rated entry is our Gold winner and is considered our official Economic Development Deal of the Year; the second, third and fourth place entries win the Silver, Bronze and Honorable Mention awards, respectively. 

  • Philip Anderson, PhD, President and CEO, P.W. Anderson & Partners
  • David Hickey, Senior Managing Director, Hickey & Associates
  • Allea Newbold, Principal, Ryan LLC
  • Angelos Angelou, President, Angelou Economics
  • Al Jones, Chief of Scouts, aljonesbusinessgrowth